When training, there’s always a tendency to focus on acceleration but neglect its opposite, deceleration. But deceleration exercises are equally important.
Athletes need to change direction quickly. Those quick pivots and shifts take their toll if we do not properly decelerate.
“Stopping on a dime” is the wrong way to begin a shift or pivot, because it wreaks havoc on the knee, even if you’ve worked hard to strengthen the muscles that support it.
To decelerate properly, start slowing down 20 to 30 meters before you stop. Completely avoiding sudden stops in game action may be difficult, but an athlete trained in deceleration will be more prepared for such instances.
When slowing, lower your center of gravity by shifting your weight closer to the ground. Each step you take should be similar to a forward lunge. The more you slow down, the deeper the lunge movement becomes.
Once you’ve reached a complete stop, you should be close to a full-frontal lunge position.
Focusing on both acceleration and deceleration during every sprint teaches your muscles to be more active during the eccentric contraction phase. Forces through the joints decrease, in turn reducing the risk of injury.